Monday, January 31, 2011

Free at last...

This weekend has been a world wind of emotions, revelations, conquered fears, community, and confirmation. I took the Ancient Paths seminar at church and had my world rocked. I was nervous about what to expect so little did I know, God had already prepared my heart for the very discussions that were being taught. We discussed generational curses and issues that cause our soul not to line up with God. Those are the very things I blogged about in my last two entries. I was comforted to know that I was already on the right track when it comes to ending the cycles of sin in my children and my generations to come. I was even more please with the visions and revelations God gave me when it comes to the condition of my soul.

In one of our small group sessions, our group leader asked us to prayerfully examine our hearts and reveal any areas of sin that we are still struggling with that is causing us to not be in alignment with God. I knew this was my moment to let everything in me loose and spend some time in God's presences, tears and all. As I prayed, I noticed God was extra silent while everyone around me was having revelations, repenting, crying etc. I was starting to get nervous because I figured I wasn't praying right or not listen to God right or something because surely He had a list of areas I was still jacked up in.

When I closed my eyes, God transported me back to September 9, 2009. In my mind's eye, I was at a Fusion service during the Naked series. The sermon was titled "Healing From Heartbreak" and this was maybe my 3rd Fusion service. I saw Pastor Johnson standing on the stage with a huge white light illuminating behind him. I saw myself standing in line with my little blue slip of paper that contained every sin I had committed and every instance of pain I could think of. Pastor Johnson told us to nail our sins and shame to the actual huge cross at the end of the stage and accept Christ's free gift of salvation and righteousness. I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain so I stood in line with the shaky faith that maybe He would give me a second chance. Maybe.

Believe it or not, He gave me a second chance. He gave me beauty for ashes. He gave me a new life. That night will forever be burned into my mind and heart because that was the night I seriously gave my heart to Christ. I remember feeling such freedom in those moments when I nailed my slip of paper to that cross. I remember the tears falling and me not really understanding why. I remember e-mailing Pastor Summer and thanking her for sharing her testimony and her thanking Jesus for meeting me at the cross. I didn't know what that meant then but I do now.

As I came back to reality and listened to the prayers for forgiveness from my group members, I again asked God why He showed me that night and not areas of my soul that needed mending. Just as sure as I hear my own voice when I speak, God said to me "Look at what I have already done for you. I have already set you free." He set me free when I took the leap of faith and nailed sins to the cross and allowed Him to breath life into my fragile heart. When I accepted Christ, He set me free. How awesome is that? Realizing I was not as jacked up as I thought was an amazing thing.

On the last day of the seminar, we were given the meaning of our names. Who would have known that my name means "free." Yeah, He knew what He was doing. More than anything this weekend, I learned that I am supposed to be here. I am right where I am supposed to be for such a time as this. I have a purpose and a plan for my life. I am free because He loves me.

Everything You do just screams "I love you." It really does.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Checking In

So it's the end of January and I am looking back at some of my new years goals. It's a lot on the list to accomplish and I have about 11 months to do so. Let's see how I have faired so far.


1. Keep a plant alive
2. Cook through the Pioneer Woman blog
3. Learn to sew (learned how to sew a button on my coat!)
4. Write at least one blog on sex trafficking for
5. Update my personal blog at least twice a week (so far so good)
6. Do one random act of kindness every week (gave a job referral, gave a TGIF coupon, recorded a show for a friend who doesn't have cable.)
. Decorate every room in my house.

Health and Beauty

1. Lose 40lbs.
2. Create a weekly meal plan for me and the boys.
3. Do the 28 day beauty challenge and wear some kind of makeup every day for 30 days.
4. Try a new hair style once a month (Got a new hair product to try so let's see)
5. Treat myself to a new article of clothing or shoes periodically and not feel guilty about it.
6. Be able to walk up Brasstown Bald Mountain and Stone Mountain without feeling like I am going to die.


1. Travel to Peru with the Fusion mission team (writing my support letter tonight)
2. Learn the fundamentals of at least one pro sport
3. Attend one pro basketball, baseball and football game
4. Go to one concert this year
5. Take a plane ride (hope to be accomplished with my Peru trip)
6. Get a tattoo (already got my design, just waiting on a friend)
7. Go to the Cabbage Patch Hospital in Cleveland, GA
8. Spend a weekend in the mountains in cabin (Planning already with Quiana)
9. Travel to Washington DC and New York City
10. Go ice skating.
11. Try AUTHENTIC dishes from at least 5 different countries.

Knowledge/Skills (not looking too good here)

1. Learn Spanish
2. Learn to change a tire
3. Refurbish a piece of furniture


1. Create and stick to a budget
2. Consistently tithe 10% of my income to the church
3. Consistently put 10% of my income into savings
4. Pay off at least 50% of my debt
5. Take Crown and Financial Peace at Victory (already signed up for Crown)


1. Read the entire Bible courtesy of the One Year Bible (in progress)
2. Read Ragmuffin Gospel and Abba's Child by Brennan Manning (starting on Ragamuffin Gospel)
3. Read Crazy Love by Franis Chan
4. Read The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel
5. Read When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson
6. Finish reading Captivating

Spiritual Well being

1. Take Ancient Paths at Victory. (Starting tomorrow!!!)
2. Take the Relating or Dating Seminar at Victory
3. Read one devotional everyday (Thanks Veronica but still need to do it consistently)
4. Do at least 3 outreaches this year (will be done via small groups)
5. Solidify my accountability partners and schedule regular check up meetings
6. Successfully apprentice a small group (I've been fast tracked so I'm praying for the best)
7. Create boundaries with people
8. Write a letter to Jesus each quarter (1st letter written as of last night)
9. Maintain a prayer journal
10. Commit to a day of total fasting and prayer each month

Social and Family Responsibility

1. Take the boys on a proper vacation
2. Schedule at least 1 movie night a week
3. Schedule 1 family outing a month
4. Spend at least 2 weekends in Mississippi
5. Call my siblings, mother, grandmother, and aunt at least once a week (so far so good)
6. Write one letter a month to friends that live out of state. (will be done this weekend)
7. Send birthday and holiday cards to friends and family this year
8. Take professional pictures with the boys

So far so good. I have a long way to go but I am enjoying the process.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Heart of My Father

Today has just been a day of emotions and confusion. I hate days like this because I feel like I am spending most of my time in my head and not really accomplishing anything. This is one of those days where I just kinda check out and rest so that I can get back into the fight. So many issues, feelings, and thoughts weighing on my mind that I am actually losing sleep. I have been losing the good fight with insomnia for a few weeks now and I think its finally taken its toll. You would think that I would just pray for a break through and release all these problems on God but this is one of those days where I am making the mistake of trying to deal with things on my own. I have to ask myself "How's that working for you?" knowing the answer would be "not so good."

Though I can't really muster up the energy or the faith to pray tonight, I know that God is listening to the rumbling in my heart and mind. As I sit here on my bedroom floor reflecting on my day and contemplating the content of my quarterly letter to Jesus I am about to write, I am listening to one of my favorite worship songs. The Anthem by Planet Shakers. As the music and lyrics soothe my ears and my heart, I can't help but embrace the tears that are falling. I am feeling rather emotional and girly right now. This is a night that I need the love and reassurance of my Heavenly Father. Sometimes it takes a worship song to pierce through all the doubt, fear, anxiety, and pride that keeps me from really hearing Him and being assured of things I already know.

Hallelujah. You have won the victory.
Hallelujah. You have won it all for me.
Death could not hold you down. You are the Risen King.
Seated in majesty. You are the Risen King.

Those words alone let me know that He hears me. He tells me that if He is the Risen King, then I am the beloved daughter of the Most High. I am the daughter of Royalty. I am His beloved, His fair one. I move His heart and He smiles at the thought of me. My name is etched in His hand in gold and He knows all the hairs on my head. He is the lover of my soul and the protector of my heart. He knitted me together in my mother's womb with love and care and He desires for me to live a life of blessing and abundance. He sacrificed His Son so that I may have the honor and pleasure of being in His presence at any moment of the day. He tells me that I can always trust Him, always depend on Him, always come to Him even in my darkest, most sinful hour. He has redeemed and cleansed me of my past and is preparing my heart and mind for a future that only He can orchestrate. He is the author of life and is penning a story so magnificent and so worthy of His beloved daughter that it brings joy to His heart. I am my Beloved's and He is mine.

He sees every little bit of effort I make for the Kingdom. He sees my heart for Him, no matter how small I think it is. He sees my passion for Him even when it is waning. He sees my desire to come to Him even in my shame. He knows my thought, He knows my heart, He knows my intention and it all makes Him happy. I have already captured His heart when I decided to die to my old ways, pick up my cross and follow Him. I've ravished His heart and He anticipates every little moment that I spend with Him. He sees me. He sees me when my faith is tested and He pulls at my heart so that I don't fall far from Him. He tells me that I move His heart just with my mere presence. I move His heart. I move the heart of the King, my Father. He sees every bit of the longing in my spirit to draw nearer to Him even when my flesh is weak. He sees the sacrifices that I make even when I don't think He notices. He is pleased and proud. He is never disappointed, angry, or sad. He tells me that I really do make Him happy. His love for me is indescribable and too beautiful for words.

Cory Asbury's worship song Do You Know The Way You Move Me brought me to tears tonight as well as The Anthem by Planet Shakers. Unfortunately, Cory's song isn't available online but luckily I found the only site that has a copy of it. It's amazing and a great reminder of the heart of our Father.

Thanks for tears tonight, my Father. I am learning to embrace them, even in your presence.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Generational Curse

I ran across a startling news report about a high school in Memphis that has 90 girls that are either currently pregnant or have had a baby since the school year began. Stories like that absolutely devastate me. The teen pregnancy epidemic is one of those issues that will probably never go away, at least not in our life time. Someone I know recently had a baby shower for her pregnant teenage daughter and I had the same gut feeling that I had when it came to my mom wanting to throw a baby shower for my pregnant 17 year old self. Why are we celebrating a teenager having a baby? Yes babies are blessings from God and no we shouldn't shame the pregnant girls either, but something about celebrating teen pregnancy just isn't right.

When thinking about the 90 new or soon to be moms in Memphis, the teenager coming off the high of her baby shower, and my own experience as a teen mom, the idea of generational curses came to mind. Numbers 14:18 says "The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." This scripture doesn't mean that children will forever be paying the price for crap their parents did. However it does mean that sins that our parents commit can have damaging affects on their children and create a cycle of those same sins being committed from one generation to the next.

Teen pregnancy is a generational curse. A huge percentage of babies born to teen moms are being raised by mothers that were teen moms themselves. My mother was a single mother at 18 and I had my son at 17. Am I blaming my mother from me getting pregnant? Not at all because trust me, I knew what I was doing when I made the conscious decision to have sex. But did my mother do her part to break the generational curse of pre-marital sex and teen pregnancy in her children? Absolutely not. I wasn't told how precious and worthy I am to God and that I should honor Him by remaining pure until I was married. I didn't have my worth validated and reaffirmed by a loving and devoted Earthly father. Despite all the good grades, amazing friends and promising academic future, I still had a longing to be loved because I didn't know the love of an Earthly father or my Heavenly Father.

Generations are punished for the sins of the father when parents don't make the effort to break those generational curses. Parents are the gatekeepers and protectors of their children. We are responsible for their well being which means physical, mental and spiritual. Most people get the physical and mental down but often leave the spiritual up to them to handle in their adult age. Parents have to be diligent about identifying those generational curses and making the decision to break off those spirits and not allowing them to become to burdens of their children.

If you take a look at any family, you can see the sins and spirits that have been passed down from generation to generations. Insecure parents pass down the curse of insecurity to their children because they are not taught confidence and self worth. Abusive parents pass down the curse of being an abuser or being abused to their children. All these issues and spirits can be broken if someone takes a stand and seek God for healing and redemption. No spirit, curse, sin, or issue of brokenness is too great for God to tackle. Every parent wants their child to have a better life than they did. Maybe it's time to really be intentional about ensuring our children do have the full life that they deserve.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What Are You Waiting For?

I have been pondering this question for several days after running across a Christian blog. "What are you waiting for?" Simple enough yet so complex. The answer to that question as well as "What is a wife?" started weighing even more heavily in my mind that I felt like I needed to share it with some of my single friends. With this being a season of preparation, it would almost be selfish to not share these revelations with others that may be preparing themselves as well.

What am I waiting for? As single Christian women, we are told that we are to wait on our husbands. Not in the "sit around and wait for him to fall out of the sky" theory, but more of a "be patient and let God prepare you and your husband for the time He would have you meet." The whole waiting game is totally up for debate depending on who you ask. For me, as faithful as God has been to me when I finally decided to yield to His direction, I would say He is pretty faithful in the marriage arena too.

So what am I waiting for? A husband. Yeah we got that, but what kind of husband? Any woman can get married to a man and have a husband and then her wish is fulfilled. But I don't think God wants me to just have a husband. I believe He wants to grant me the desires of my heart according to His will which means I need to know what it is I am waiting for. I need to know what kind of husband I am waiting for so I don't settle for just anyone for the sake of having a husband. Too many people have made that mistake.

I've never been one to make the ceremonial list of qualifications for my future husband to possess. I've scoffed at women that did, usually because those lists were filled with such superficial nonsense, it was worth laughing at. But, they did have it right. They had a list of what they were looking for and things that they would not compromise on. It makes sense to know what it is you are looking for so if by chance I meet someone (or progress more with someone I have already met), I will have my criteria ready to hold up to see if he is someone even worth entertaining.

The same would go for me as a wife as well. If I am putting so much emphasis on the type of husband I am looking for, I am sure he is putting emphasis on the type of wife he is looking for. So I am sure this is why God wants me to figure out what a wife is. Do I know my role as a wife? Do I know how God sees a wife? Have I become someone worthy finding? Proverbs 31 is the ideal wife. She is hard to measure up to, but not impossible.

Looks like I have some work to do. Another interesting assignment that I am finally getting around to accomplishing.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On The Fast Track...

I finally answered the call to "step up and lead" by becoming a small group apprentice. I fought it for a while because I wasn't quite sure if it was what God was calling me to do or if it was just something I desired to do. So many people spoke such positive things into my life when the idea of leading our generation of young Jesus seekers came up. I think Avery Nesbitt kinda sealed the deal when he asked me to speak at the small group interest meeting at the main church, thinking all the while I was a small group leader. Needless to say, the Fusion coaches were on board with me stepping up. Nothing more heart warming than getting the vote of confidence from my ministry coaches who I really didn't even think paid that much attention to me.

Boy was I wrong.

Dede Nesbitt totally dropped the bomb me on Saturday at the small group apprentice training when she told me that I was on the fast track apprentice list. With Fusion small groups, apprentices are in their role for about 6 months before they are moved from an apprenticeship role to an actual small group leader role. Fast tracked apprentices move up to leaders in half that time. These are usually the people who the coaches believe will excel in their leadership role rather quickly and efficiently. Imagine my surprise when Dede told me I would be having my own group in just a few weeks. Megan Loving saw the surprised look on my face and reassured me that I could totally handle it. Again, more positive affirmation from someone I admire. She explained how she never even officially step into the apprentice role and kinda just fell into the leader role.

In all honestly, I am beyond excited and very humbled that God is totally moving thanks to my obedience. Not only did He believe that I could lead others but He has a plan for that to happen sooner than I expected. With obedience comes so many blessing and break throughs it's crazy. Yield to His command and watch Him do some amazing things!

Who Will Save The Children?

A short but sweet blog post.

I just had a thought. Taina mentioned to us at the Peru missions meeting that one of the key pieces of content to add to our missions support letter is why me want to go to Peru. Not the teams' vision or our church's vision for the trip but why do we personally want to go on the trip.

My answer is simple. If I don't fight for the victims that have no voice, who will? The Bible says that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few. There are so few people that fight for the innocent children who are forced in to sex trafficking or other forms of human trafficking. Atlanta has been one of the top cities in the country for commercial sexual exploitation of children for years. In Peru, government officials don't even acknowledge that sex trafficking and slavery is even happening there. If no one talks about it, the problem doesn't exist right? Tell that to the children that are bought and sold each and every day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Princess, Purpose and Peru

Some how, God saw fit to give me a heart for people and a heart for the mission field. It's weird because I have never been on an international mission trip but just the mere idea of being used as a messenger to spread the gospel sends tingles up my spine. My first visit to Victory World Church showed me that underneath the surface, I was a missionary at heart. Hearing Pastor Dennis update the church on the wells that had been dug in Africa thanks to their faithful tithing and offerings melted my heart because I was in a church that understood God's heart for His people outside of our little comfy suburb.

Tonight we had a meeting with everyone that is going on the Peru missions trip in June. I was feeling a bit discouraged about Peru lately mainly because of the $1,700 price tag. With me trying to create a budget, pay off some debt and start saving, coming up with $1,700 started to seem like such a daunting task. Peru started to become less of a priority and my heart started to ache about it. I was feeling a bit bummed about going to the meeting tonight, knowing I hadn't even begun to write my support letter or even began to start raising money for the trip.

But something amazing and so timely happened today. A princess appeared. My princess appeared. Sabrina appeared. God totally rocked my world with that surprise! I had prayed for Sabrina for so many nights and in all honesty, I thought I would never hear from her again. Her life, her story, her rescue, her struggle, her return to a life of prostitution absolutely changed my life.

When I look back at last summer, God divinely orchestrated a series of events that changed my life and ignited my life's purpose. God had me at that Fusion service when the Sunday to Sunday in town mission trips for Summer 2010 were announced. Though I didn't have the money to pay the fee before all the spots filled up, God knew my desire and He already had granted me favor. It was His planning that had me and Heather engaged in a conversation about S2S, my inability to pay but desire to go, that had her tell me to contact Dede directly and explain my situation. Dede so graciously extended my time to pay until July even though the trip I would take would be in June. God favored me. It was His divine plan that because of the threat of rain we had Princess Night on Thursday instead of Friday. It was on that day, in the dark of the night, out the corner of my eye, I saw a girl in a dress and flip flops walking with her pimp, folding her hands over and over again because of nerves and fear. It was God's plan for my life to be forever changed in that one night.

I believe that God is at work yet again, divinely putting together a series of events so that I am apart of the Peru mission team. I believe His plan for me is to see how the commercial exploitation of children is so much bigger than what my natural mind can grasp. He wants me to have my heart broken for the street children of Peru and for the girls far younger than Sabrina that are forced to sell their bodies to survive. He wants me to see His bigger picture and to know that these are the people that need His love and that I am the messenger that needs to deliver the Good News. He needs me to have my life changed. He needs me to plant seeds of hope and faith into the children who may one day change their country for His good. He needs me to capture that passion that He has placed in my heart and use it to fuel my purpose. He needs me to see the problem first hand so that I can be apart of the solution. We can rescue every street kid and child prostitute from Atlanta to Peru but someone has to help rehabilitate them, counsel them and show them God's love in action. That seems to be God's plan for my future.

Sabrina, my Princess, has marked me forever. She has left her impression on me in a way that words cannot even begin to describe. Knowing that Sabrina is still alive and well reminded me that even though she is still in that life, those seeds of compassion and hope are still planted deeply in her spirit. God needed me to know that He hears my prayers for her. He also wants me to know that He works in the supernatural and that nothing is impossible when it is His will for my life. I am supposed to go to Peru and Sabrina is my reason why. I couldn't save her but there are so many more Sabrinas that need to be helped. This is my Gideon moment. Though I feel weak and ill equipped, God is preparing to do some amazing things with my life.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Change of Heart

It is no secret that I desire to be married. In all honesty, I do believe God has placed me in a season of preparation to be a wife, but I am feeling a bit weird about it. Last year, God woke me up in the middle of the night with this one question, "What is a wife?" It's been almost a year since that question popped into my head. I think I have been shying away from answering that question because of the weight of seriousness I place on the role of a wife. Women get married every day but not every woman is prepared to be a wife. Once the glitz and the euphoria of the wedding day end, reality of the new role of wife set in. I never really think I am prepared for a new season that God places me in but He always knows what's best and is not afraid to challenge me. It might be time to start working on my "wife" assignment.

Some of the best wife preparation advice I have heard was from a married woman at church that I admire. She sympathized with some of us single gals in our desire to be paired with the one God has for us because not long ago, she was in our same situation. However, when she looked at the role of wife and the importance of marriage from God's perspective and compared it to her life at that time, she knew she wasn't prepared. When I look at my life today, I know I am not prepared to be a help mate.

But God is changing my heart. And in the most interesting and funny ways. I haven't been in a relationship in over a year and a half which is my longest bout of singleness ever. Totally my choice because I knew I needed to get guys out of my system for a season or two. It wasn't until recently that I actually started to notice guys again. I mean notice them in a sense that I would actually like to get to know them better when before I wouldn't even entertain the idea. I have become more and more transparent with my desire to be married and starting to really sit back and observe the inner workings of marriages from couples I admire. From Kat and Reggie, Dede and Avery and Quiana and Dexter, God has surrounded me with some fabulous examples of marriages that He is truly proud of. I have had the pleasure of seeing the rewards of couples that courted and honored God in the relationships before marriage and the benefits of it. I have even caught myself watching the cheesy wedding shows on WE and TLC. I have never envisioned having some over the top, budget busting show case for one day so those shows have never really appealed to me. But I am warming up to the idea that though the focus should be on the marriage, the celebration of the wedding day can be a big deal too and should be enjoyed by family and friends.

God definitely has a plan for our futures and He does hear the prayers that we whisper to Him. I have desired to be married and have made it known to Him so now is not the time to stick my head in the sand because of fear. I tend to get jaded at the idea of marriage because of so many unhappy and broken marriages that I have seen over the years. My parents were never married so growing up I never had an example of what a functional relationship let alone a marriage was supposed to look like. I sometimes feel like I am at a disadvantage because of that. But My Father is an amazing example of love, devotion, commitment, security, leadership, purpose and everything that a husband should possess. He is my blueprint and the husband that He has for me knows that as well. He desires for me to have His best and His best has already been chosen. We are both in our preparation seasons, allowing God to continue preparing our hearts and minds to meet each other. This will be an interesting season for sure.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Blog Snob

I have become quite the lover of blogs. Not just my own blog but searching the net for other blogs. I am quite picky of the ones I decide to follow. Yes, I am a blog snob. I prefer to steer clear of the typical gossip and fashion blogs. I prefer blogs that are simple musings of some one's everyday life. Nothing fancy or riddled with ads. Just the day in the life of...

I have found a couple of relationship blogs, single mom blogs, local Atlantans blogs, a blog on budgeting, and a couple blogs from guys. Everyone has a different angle, a different vision for their blog, everyone giving a glimpse into their life according to, well them. The one thing I don't see much of are blogs from Christians. Sure there are plenty that proclaim to be God loving Christians but after reading a few posts...I am starting to wonder what God they serve.

I hate to say this but sometimes, being a Christian in every sense of the word, makes you a bit judgmental. Yes, Christians are judgmental despite the Bible being rather clear on not judging people. But we do. I have a problem with people that profess to be Christians, praising God when the situation deem fit, yet living their life by their own rules. Not saying I am a saint, very much far from it, but I have lived my life by my own rules for the majority of my life. I've known of Christ but it has only been in the past couple of years where I have really had a relationship with Him. It's this new found love and appreciation for the mere fact that Christ died so that I can have a life filled with blessings and joy that makes me turn away from living by my own rules. Yet, there are so many people that have an audience, claim to love God, yet still indulge in the very things that Christ died for and condemns to this day. No conviction, lukewarm "christians" seriously bother me. I am reading blogs by people that shout how much they love God, yet have a porn pick of the week and give instructions on how to give oral sex properly. One blog praises teeny bopper rapper Teyanna Taylor's purity ring, yet doesn't discourage pre-martial sex with couples.

I have a problem with people that can call themselves Christians, yet don't even live their lives as such. These are the very people that make many fall away from the church. I was having a joking conversation with a friend about going to church and she was quite honest about the fact that she doesn't attend because of the hypocrites that flock to church every Sunday. She is well aware that your own personal relationship with Christ is important but she doesn't realize that God wants us to worship together corporately with other believers who encompass the church. I have heard that very same reason from many people and unfortunately, there is not much you can do about the hypocrites that live behind the name of Christ. They will have their day of judgement and unfortunately many will hear "I never knew you."

Matthew 7:21-23 says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" I wish everyone that professes to follow Christ would take heed to what that means and act accordingly. Life is so short and truth be told, there are many people that are close to me that would not go to Heaven. No one wants to give up what feels good and all that comes with that in order to truly follow Christ. Few wants to stop having sex before marriage, feed the homeless, love others more than yourself, preach the gospel to those that probably wont listen, serve others, be apart of the church, or turn away from a host of other sins. The fun that people have now could quite possibly send them straight to Hell. Real talk.

Get It Together

Christina and I made and failed at our cleverly devised plan to try to make it to work this morning. Unfortunately Gwinnett County Police decided to block my street and part of her street so there was no way she could reach me or even make it to the interstate herself. Tried but failed.

So here I am. Day 3 of Snow Storm 2011. Day 5 of the fast. I do admit in a fit of rebellion, I made pancakes and eggs and had coffee with milk. Totally broke my fast and felt like crap afterwards. I am usually good about keeping to my fasts. I stuck with it last year for the 21 days and when I fasted for 3 days with Veronica. I usually try to be obedient and diligent when making commitments to God but this time, I totally flaked. I wanted to rebel because I kept telling myself my heart wasn't in it. I am not sure if that was totally true but part of me wanted to give in. Not sure why but even in my rebellion, God still saw fit to reveal the hurt behind my rebellion.

I am so far from having it all together, it's almost laughable. Most days I am good. Honestly. But behind it all, I know I am falling short of where I want to be and where God is calling me to be. I am my own worst enemy and I stand in my own way more than anyone or anything else. I have learned to conquer things with mind over matter, faith and prayer, but just like any other living, breathing, and honest Christian, there are times when we don't completely trust God and allow Him to really be my everything. Sounds good when we say it, but we really are fooling ourselves.

I know my words sound a bit taboo for someone who professes to be a follower of Christ but I have learned that people prefer honesty over sugar coated lies. So me saying I am a rebellious kid who hasn't prayed, hasn't cracked open the Bible, or hasn't heard a worship song in 3 days may come as a shock. I am going through one of my impatient, I can't see the bigger picture, temper tantrums right now. And you know what? It's okay. Seriously, it's okay because My Father gets me. If I could see Him in His earthly form, He would be standing in the corner of my room, tapping His foot saying "Seriously, get it together. I'm right here, not going anywhere, waiting on you to let go and come to me." He and I are in a tug of war match and I am rather stubborn, not ready to let go of the rope and fall flat on my face. I'm not ready. But I know I need to hit the ground. And that's okay too.

I asked Him to peel back the layers and expose any areas of my heart that needs mending. I asked for that and now I am a little afraid of what I might find. So I am grinding my feet in sand and closing my eyes, but my resolve is starting to weaken. My convictions for breaking my fast were evident, my emotional state yesterday got the best of me and I know there is more to come. I can only hold on for so long before My Father, in His ever loving way, forces me to get it together and stop being a whiny brat. He knows me so well, flaws and all, yet He loves and delights in me anyway.

"He loves me whether in a state of grace or disgrace, whether I live up to the lofty expectations of His gospel or I don't. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am." Yeah, He does....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Peeling Back The Layers

I'm feeling a bit anxious today. Kinda like mini anxiety attacks coming on. Not cabin fever though I would like to place the blame there. More like God is peeling back some of my layers that I like to leave right where they are. Truth and transparency time.

This is one of those days where I am feeling all girly and emotional. For some reason I got a little choked up watching a TV show (The Game) and it's weird because I have seen those very episodes before. Something about the crazy relationships and breakups and unexpected pregnancy just stings a bit. I've been Melanie and Janay and Tasha. The girl in love with the idea of love, the girl carrying the child that wasn't in the plan, the single mom who tries her best not to let anyone get too close and not wear her heart on her sleeve. Though just characters on the small screen, they are all pieces of me. I can admit that.

Just the other day, I was mentioning to a friend who is dealing with a break up, that it's okay to hurt and to be honest with God about how she feels. I'm finding myself having to be honest with myself and admit out loud some of these feeling that I have that I try my best to hide or bury under the mound of distractions I create. I figured if I am busy enough, I don't have to worry about the little nuisances like feelings. If I am busy enough, I don't have to think about the twinge of loneliness, fear of failure, fear of thinking I don't always measure up, fear of the unknown.

2 Timothy 1:7 says that "For God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind." It's interesting what a fast will reveal and even more interesting how the enemy will bombard you when attempting to draw near to Christ. For a couple of days now, I have been in this crazy fog so a breakthrough was very much needed. Peeling back the layers one day at a time.

Snowed In

Today is Tuesday, January 11, 2011. 1/11/11. More like Snow Storm 2011. The city is under a blanket of snow and ice and my office has been closed for 2 days. I am staring at about 5 inches of snow that has covered my front and back yard that is now coated with a layer of ice. I let the kids play outside while I watched from the warmth of the living room. Being home for all these days during the fast, you would think I am immersed in the presence of God, studying the word and in prayer. But I'm not. For some reason, my heart is not in this fast.

I was very excited to do the fast, excited about the revelations and breakthroughs God was going to provide. But I can't focus. I can't get motivated to read my Bible or to even spend some real time in prayer. I think I am spending more time complaining and worry about random things than being thankful for what I have and where I am. It's weird and rather frustrating. I feel like I am not pleasing God, like I am disappointing my Dad.

I am having a bit of cabin fever after being snowed in for 2 days and the distractions of having the kids running around, trying to juggle my own stuff, and craving meat and dairy just isn't helping.

In need of a breakthrough.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Lesson in Patience

So I just had a total "A-HA" revelation that is leading me to feel a bit convicted. But in a good way because conviction is good. Last night, I was emailing a dear friend who had recently experienced a bad breakup. I decided to share with her the link to the Fusion relationship series called Naked. Yes, it was called Naked after the "naked and unashamed" scripture in Genesis. I started going to Fusion right when the series kicked off and I must admit, learning about courtship and doing relationship in a way that honor God has been some of the BEST relationship advice I have ever gotten. I am a huge promoter of courtship so I had to share with her some valuable info that can help her understand that she doesn't ever have to be in another dating relationship that can lead to yet another tear filled and heart wrenching breakup.

God decided to see fit to have me listen to the series last night at like 1:00 AM. Yes, I was up at 1:00 AM listening to a relationship sermon. I wasn't feeling lonely or thinking about the guy I have "noticed." I just felt compelled to listen again. It's funny because right before Fusion ended for the year in December, we had just wrapped up the Boy Meets Girl relationship series. Guess I needed a brief refresher course.

I listened to the first message last night and made it almost to the end before sleep got the best of me. I went to work with the Naked series still on my mind and listened to the second message: Courting v. Dating. The death match between God's way to be in a relationship and the world's way to be in a relationship. One of the main points Pastor Johnson listed in the differences between courtship and dating is the idea of the connection before the commitment. Often times in dating, the two people connect on such a strong emotional level so quickly, even before they have the infamous "where is this going?" talk. Spending hours on the phone pour out your life stories and deepest darkest secrets or spending all your time together creates this deep connection, feelings intensify, and hearts are left exposed. This all happens while the couple is just dating, just having fun, just kicking it. No commitment, no direction in the relationship, no purpose in the relationship, yet the connection is already established and hearts are intertwined. At some point in the very near future, someone, usually the girl, wants to know where the relationship is going. She quickly realizes that they are not on the same page and the break up happens and the heart break begins. She has bared her soul to someone that didn't think she was worthy enough to commit to. Sad.

In courting, there is commitment before the connection. When a guy and a girl decide that they have been given the green light from God to enter into courtship, they are committing to the idea that if the relationship keeps going in a positive direction, while honoring God, they WILL get married. The purpose of courtship is to get to know each other better, determine if they are both on the same path, knowing all the while that the relationship will lead to marriage. There are no awkward conversations because both people entering the relationship are already on the same page on the front end. They are committing to growing deeper in their relationship with each other and with God, while guarding each others hearts, respecting boundaries, holding each other accountable, allowing others to hold them accountable, remaining pure, honoring God, creating a vision and purpose for their relationship and eventual marriage. They are already committed to the idea of getting married well before they develop those deep connections. The connections are developed over the course of months, not in a matter of days or weeks like in dating.

Back to my revelation. So after listening to the message earlier today, I really didn't think much about relationships or courting. I went on about my day just like any other day. It wasn't until I was on my way to Barnes and Noble did it hit me. Commitment before connection. Commitment before connection. God was telling me I needed to be patient and wait for the commitment before trying to get the connection. I started to feel rather convicted because I knew I was handling a certain situation with a guy all wrong. I realized I was becoming more and more impatient with this guy because I wasn't getting the connection I was seeking and there was nothing even remotely close to a commitment. Keep in mind, there is no sexual or deep emotional entanglement between the two of us. Everything is still very surface and casual, which is probably why I am impatient. I'm not used to having to be patient and allow a guy to peel back the layers slowly. I'm used to dating, which says in the amount of time he and I have been having our random, sporadic conversations, we should be knee deep in some emotionally intimate mess that will probably end in a lot of tears because there was no commitment before the butterflies wore off.

God is telling me to be patient. There is no rush. Allow this guy to lead, even if its just in this friend stage. Allow him to slowly peel back his layers and inquire about my life. Guard my heart and remain prayerful about whether or not this is even a path God wants me to take. I prayed about my error in judgement and asked for forgiveness for being impatient and trying to do things my way. I am thankful for conviction because conviction leads to repentance which leads to forgiveness. My Father is amazing and all knowing. He definitely knows the desires of my heart because I remind Him often. He is jealous for me and wants His absolute best for me. He is still waiting on me to trust Him completely which I am working on. He is patient and loving and doesn't mind letting me stumble a bit along the way. Luckily, He is always right there beside me to catch me if I fall.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Do you know the way you move Me?

As my 21 day fast is rapidly approaching, I am trying to mentally prepare my mind for 21 days of sacrifice and intimacy with God. Though I try to spend time with Him on a daily basis, something about fasting and prayer draws my spirit closer to Him. My thoughts are solely focused on Him and allowing Him to be my living water and sustainer. Not an easy task but definitely worth the sacrifice.

As I sit typing this blog, I am listening to one of the most amazing worship songs I have ever heard. It's Cory Asbury's song "Do You Know The Way You Move Me?" I love songs from the IHOP worship teams and I heard this song a year ago. I heard it for the first time in the Furnace. The Furnace is Fusion's dedicated prayer room that is only opened for 24 hours for a few weeks out of the year. You sign up for a one hour slot and the room is yours. I have spent many 2 and 3 AM worship sessions in there. It's a place where you can sit and listen to worship music, read your bible, write in the community journals, nail your sins to the actual cross in the room, take communion, pin prayers to the wall like in Jerusalem, draw or paint a picture, cry your eyes out before your Savior, hear angel wings flapping and have angels blow on your face. Last spring for about 10 weeks, our Fusion services turned into this Holy Spirit filled season of revival. The move of the Spirit was so tangible and present that we couldn't help but open the Furnace so people could continue experience that every presence of God. Pastor Johnson and some of the coaches were in the Furnace having a crazy intense worship and prayer session. At one point, someone heard wings flapping near their ears and one guy felt what could only be an angel blow in His face. The Furnace is an amazing, holy, and anointed place.

The lyrics to the original spontaneous song are the most touching because the song sounds like God is talking directly to you. He asks "Do you know the way you move me?" Do we have any idea how much we move God's heart? Can we fathom how much God absolutely delights in us and smiles at the mere thought of us? Our names are etched in the palms of His hand and He knows the number of hairs on our heads. Seriously, most days I have a hard time comprehending the depth of His love and devotion to us. It's mind blowing and beautiful. The song is 22 minutes long but worth the length of this blog to post the lyrics.

Do you know how you've caught me eye in the secret place where you chose to die?

Do you know the way you move me? I see every time you laid down those other things for me, I see every time you seek my face beloved one. I see every movement of your heart towards me, I do. I see every little movement of your heart towards me. Though you're weak my beloved, I see your love, I see your love. And though it's small my beloved, I see your heart, I see your love. And though it ain't much my beloved one, I see the way that you want me, that you need Me, that you've gotta have Me, I see it. I see every little desire, every little passion, every little piece of hunger, every little thing, I see it all. Nothing goes unseen from My eye, nothing goes unseen from My gaze. Every time you look towards Me, I see it, EVERY TIME you stare at Me I see it, I see your love, how small it may be I see it all my beloved one. Every time you look My way I see it, every time you stare at me I see it. Though it feels a little weak sometimes, though it feels a little broken sometimes, I see every second, every little glance, every little glance my way, I see it, I see it, I love it, I love it, I love you just the way you are, I love you, I love you, listen my beloved one. Every little glance towards me, I see it. Every little time you look at me I see it. Every movement of your heart, every movement of your heart, I see it.

Do you know the way you move Me? Do you know the way you move Me? Do you know? Do you know the way you undo My heart My beloved? I love every sacrifice you've made, every time you say no one cares, I see it. Do you know the way you move Me?

You're beautiful just the way you are. You're beautiful My love, My dove, My favorite one, My joy, I love you right where you are, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. I'll never stop, I'll never stop! I'm so in love with you, my bride, I'm so in love with you my favorite one. With every single little glance, with every movement of your will, with every decision that you've made, I'm undone. I love you with an everlasting love, I love you with an everlasting love. I'm not disappointed in you, I'm not angry with you. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. So don't hide your face from me, I'll break off shame, I'll break off condemnation, it's gone, it's gone, it's gone, it's gone, you're free. You've ravaged me, I'm undone, I'm not disappointed, I'm not angry, I'm in LOVE with you! You've ravaged me, I'm in love with you.

Do you know how you've caught my eye in the secret place where you chose to die? Where you chose to lay it all down, where you chose to follow me, where you chose to take up that cross day after day after day after day. You've ravaged my heart, you have. Just one glance of your eye, just one. My heart it's undone every time you look at me. Everyday that you don't give up, that you don't let go, that you don't look down, my heart it's undone, my heart it's ravaged.

Do you know the way you move Me? Do you know the way you move Me?

I saw when you gave it all up. I did. I saw it when you gave it all up. You passed up opportunity after opportunity just to seek me, just to find me, just to love me a little longer, I saw it. And it moved my heart. Don't think those little sacrifices go unnoticed. Don't think those little times go unnoticed, when you think I'm not looking at you. I saw it, I saw when you gave up everything to follow me, I did. I did and I'm pleased, and I'm proud, and I'm not mostly disappointed, and I'm not mostly mad, and I'm not mostly sad, and I'm happy with you and I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. My beloved one.

Do you know the way you move Me? Do you know the way you move Me?

I saw it when you left your friends behind, and I saw it when you left your family behind, and I saw it when you gave up everything just to follow me, just so you could love me a little bit more. I saw it when you left your friends behind, and I saw it when you left your family behind, and I saw it when you gave up everything, when you let go of everything just to find me, I saw it. I'm pleased and I'm proud. I love you, thank you! It really means something to Me that you did it all. It really means something to me that you gave it all up, that you gave it all up, and it's not for nothing, I'll meet you there in the longing. It's not for nothing, it's not for nothing, it's not for nothing. I saw it, I saw it.

Do you know the way you move Me? Do you know the way you move Me?

I saw it when you took the narrow road, I saw it when you took the road less traveled, I saw it when you took that narrow road, it's a little bit lonely sometimes, I saw it. I saw it when you left your friends behind and took that narrow road of love. I saw it. I saw it. I saw it. I love you, and I love you. I love you. I see your HEART, and I SEE YOUR HEART! That you want Me, I see it.I see it. I see it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fasting and Prayer

It's that time again. On January 8, 2011, my church will be starting our yearly 21 days of fasting and prayer. Last year was my first year participating in the fast and it ended up not being as hard as I thought it would be. Fasting isn't an easy task and it's not supposed to be. It's a purposeful sacrifice to draw closer to God and to detox from all the physical and spiritual junk we have filling our bodies and souls. Prayer and fasting truly works! I still remember hearing God's voice speak to me as clear as day driving home one day. He reminded me that "he (Ryan) will grow up." Totally freaked me out but that just shows the power and wonder in being obedient and spending some time denying our flesh and being in the presence of our Father.

There are plenty of scriptures in the Bible about fasting and prayer but the one that speaks to most to me is Matthew 17:17-21. It's the passage about Jesus casting the demon out of the little boy and His disciples wondered why they couldn't cast out the demon as well.

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

Jesus was very clear that nothing is impossible but some things require fasting and prayer. Some desires and knowledge require us to draw closer to God so that we can be free from distractions and open to hear His voice. It gets harder to hear the response to prayers when we have distractions, sin, fleshly desires and all kind of other crap clogging up the filter we need to discern from God's voice and our own voice.

Prayer is always an important staple in our lives as Christians but if you're like me, most days I wonder if He even hears me. Yes, He has heard and come through on countless prayers, but sometimes I wonder if He really hears me. There are somethings that I am still waiting on some sort of response, denial, confirmation, signs and wonder, but to no avail. God on mute again. There are a lot of things on my prayer list right about now so this fast is right on time. I ran across this devotional in my Bible that made a light bulb go off in my head.

The book of Hebrew chapter 11 talks about great examples of faith. Hebrew 11:6 states that "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." I found the answer to my God on mute problem. I haven't always had faith that God will come through on the prayers that I send up to Him. Without faith, it's like my prayers fall on deaf ears. Makes perfect sense.

I have realized that I sometimes wonder if I am praying correctly. I know I don't sound anything like some of the more "seasoned prayer warriors" that I know but there is no format to follow. But there are some instructions that one must follow when it comes to prayer.

1. We must come in faith, believing that there is a God who will hear us and reward us. (Hebrew 11:6)

2. We must willingly let God examine our heart(Psalm 139:23-24), confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and then repent (Acts 3:19).

3. We can pray even if we feel that our faith is small (Matthew 17:20).

4. We must consider if there are any of our relationships that need mending. Then we need to go and try to make them right (Matthew 5:23-24)

5. We must come to prayer by asking in Jesus' name and for his sake. We can ask ourselves, Will the answer to this prayer honor Jesus' name? Will it glorify and extend the work of the Kingdom? (John 14:13).

This is going to be an interesting fasting and prayer season. This year is gearing up to be great and full of hope, promise, and purpose. I am looking forward to hearing instructions and direction from God, getting clarity on various areas of my life that needs a bit of fine tuning, etc. This is going to be a good year. Change starts now.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Here's To Living The Life I've Always Dreamed Of

Today is January 1, 2011. Last night me and the boys stayed in and enjoyed tacos and a countdown from Dick Clark. Not a traditional New Years Eve but I didn't want to go through the trouble of going out and having the boys out late. They enjoyed it so no worries.

Like always, plenty of people sent their usual mass text messages but one in particular stood out to me. My friend Quiana sent a message that said "Here's to living the life we've always dreamed of!" I liked that motto because I had never really thought about what it would be like to live the life I had always dreamed of. For as long as I can remember I have just been living, but not living life abundantly. My life has always been a product of my circumstances but I've never done anything that I really wanted to do. I am used to adjusting my life to fit those around me, whether it be kids or friends or family or others in need. Part of me feels like in all these years, I have lost little bits and pieces of me.

So this year is special. This year is different. This year is about doing things I had always wanted to do but never found the time or resources to do them with. This is the year of me putting myself in a position to live the life I had always dreamed of.

I made a list in my prayer journal of what it would look like for me to live the life I always dreamed of. Here goes:

I will have a life filled with love. Love from friends, family, and the mate that God Himself selected for me

I will do international missions work

I will be debt free

I will have a thriving career counseling those in need

I will own a house

I will be bold and fearless

I will share the Gospel with everyone that will listen

I will touch lives, inspire and lead others

I will strengthen friendships and mend broken relationships

I will be healthy in my physical body and spiritual life

I will have family that follows, worships, and honors Christ in all things

This list is subject to change but this would be my idea of an ideal life. I know that God has an amazing way of changing my life's plans but I am pretty sure He knows the desires of my heart. He honors those that are faithful and honor Him and I try to do my best everyday.